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Casmir Caregiver Shines During COVID-19 Pandemic (Part 2)

 

“The thing I worried about most was when the individuals would have to visit their families,” she said. 

Once Philadelphia started opening up, the individuals could visit their families for brief periods. Daisy considered this a challenge because she was concerned that they would not adhere to the cleaning routines that she had incorporated into most of the activities she had prepared for them.

Daisy did their laundry twice a day, took their temperatures, and ensured they had their masks on when it was time to go outdoors. She taught them handwashing games, and they spent a lot of time at the kitchen sink washing dishes even though they were already clean.  She did all this to reinforce their habits and show them how important it was to clean certain things thoroughly to guard against the virus.

After their time at home, Daisy and the staff had to reinstate what they had taught the individuals.  Daisy hoped that while they were away, they were adhering to what she had taught them.  “So when they came back, we had to pay extra attention to sniffles or runny eyes and noses, and we had to keep them partially separated if they had roommates,” she stated. For Casmir caregivers, it has been a matter of staying vigilant. Thankfully, there have been no relapses, and no one has become sick again. All the individuals are doing well.

Daisy openly shares her experience with COVID-19 because she wants to give a clear picture of how this disease affects both individuals and medical professionals. While in the hospital, Daisy felt that the diagnostic process started slowly. “The nurses and doctors would constantly ask me, ‘Do you have symptoms?’ and I would look at them with a blank stare sometimes because I had already said that I could barely walk and that I had difficulty breathing,” she explained.  However, Daisy quickly realized that she needed to keep her composure because the situation was also new to them. The doctors and nurses were dealing with the virus on a day-to-day basis, just like Casmir Care was.  They were learning something new almost daily, as was the rest of the world.  Their repeated questions about her symptoms allowed medical professionals to update the information that they already had about COVID-19. “I can attest that it [COVID-19] is bad,” she stressed.

“While I was on the medication they had prescribed me, I would go to the doctor every week for check-ups.  Almost every time my medication would have to be changed or adjusted because my pre-existing thyroid condition was an issue,” she said.  

Another reason to consider Daisy a hero is because of the way she pushed through without being able to see her family. She was also alone while recovering. “My children all live in Virginia, and I haven’t seen them since the lockdown,” she revealed. Being away from her daughters and grandchildren would sometimes take a toll on her, but taking care of her individuals at Casmir Care makes her feel less lonely. “I go to work a lot because I don’t want to be home alone and think of how badly I want to see my grandchildren,” she said.  Daisy’s 8-year-old grandson’s TikTok videos put a smile on her face when she comes home from work. She says it’s all she will watch. It brings tears to her eyes when he mentions her name in those videos.

As tough as it has been to be away from her family, Daisy is doing what she loves as a caregiver with Casmir Care Services. “I am truly happy with what I am doing,” she exclaims. “The management, the employees, and the individuals have always welcomed me with open arms.”

Daisy may not see an individual because she is working at a different house. “The individuals make me feel special. I might not see some of them for a while,” she says. “But when that individual sees me, they still know who I am, and that is the best feeling! It’s like you’ve grown inside of them, and they’ve grown inside of you. Their smiles make you want to be at work all the time!”

Casmir Caregiver Shines During COVID-19 Pandemic (Part 1)

 

For over nine years, Daisy Williams has been a valued Casmir Care Services caregiver.  Although she has had several challenges as a caregiver throughout the years, the COVID-19 pandemic presented a few more. But Daisy passed with flying colors.

Daisy is a Direct Support Professional at Casmir Care.  She tends to the intellectually disabled individuals. During Philadelphia’s lockdown, she was on the frontline caring for the individuals who tested positive for COVID-19 and were symptomatic.  Because of the pandemic, Daisy and the staff had to work very long hours. Casmir was understaffed and was struggling with hiring at that time.

“I’m doing well now,” she stated. “In the beginning, it was quite a struggle, but it’s become a lot easier now.”

Being short on staff and having to care for her individuals under a nationwide lockdown wasn’t something Daisy expected. To make it less challenging for all the individuals, she looked for creative ways to keep everyone engaged.  Some of the individuals she cared for enjoyed being outside and interacting with people, while some of them preferred staying indoors with less interaction.   For the individuals who liked to go out, Daisy brought in pots with dirt to simulate being outdoors.  There were puzzles, games, and other activities for those who preferred being indoors.  Some activities turned out to be less than ideal, however.  For instance, painting became an art form in itself as some individuals thought the paint was edible and tried to eat it because of the pretty colors.

“I was on the forefront with individuals when they fell ill to COVID because I am the one who monitors or lets newer staff shadow me so they can learn how to care for the individuals,” she explained. “I would be there to make sure they knew how to calm the individuals if they were agitated or about to go into difficult behavior.” So when some individuals tested positive for COVID and became symptomatic, Daisy expected their behaviors to get worse. However, that was not the case.

“The symptoms didn’t affect their behavior,” she explained. “They became lethargic and slept most of the time. However, once they came out of it, they couldn’t understand what they had been through.”  The staff was able to tell that they were returning to normal because their behaviors began to intensify.

When told that Casmir considered her a COVID-19 hero, Daisy quickly demurred.  She didn’t feel as though she deserved it. “I feel the heroes were the ones who took amazing care of me when I fell ill,” she said.  

By falling ill, she meant that she too had contracted COVID-19 in May. Because she had a pre-existing condition and was hands-on with very sick individuals who had the virus, it was only a matter of time before she became infected. After spending four days in the hospital, and self-isolating for fourteen more, Daisy could return to work.  Since then, Daisy has tested negative for the virus, but she still stays vigilant about her health and keeps a close eye on her individuals.

“I recuperated quickly. I came out of the hospital and had to quarantine for fourteen more days,” she said.  “I kept a list of all the symptoms and changes that my body went through, so I would be capable of knowing whether I would need to go into quarantine again should the symptoms reappear.”

Keeping the list helped Daisy to know if the individuals were exhibiting any COVID symptoms or if they were in danger of relapsing. “I can differentiate between what sounds like COVID-breath or if they are out of breath because of overexertion,” she said. If they have any of the symptoms, she will have them tested, and if they are positive, she will quarantine them as quickly as possible, before they can infect the other individuals.

With the knowledge she possesses as an experienced Casmir Caregiver and as someone who has beat COVID-19, Daisy has become someone whom the rest of the staff can go to with confidence and ask for her advice.

However, knowing what symptoms to look for in her individuals didn’t make Daisy any less nervous…

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